The mountains from Arashiyama to Kameoka have some of the most spectacular scenery in Kyoto. And to adore these sceneries that change each season, the best seats are provided by Sagano Scenic Railway, which runs along the Hozu River (保津川)! To get back to Arashiyama, take the Hozugawa River Boat Ride (保津川下り) that will bring you all the way to Togetsu Bridge (渡月橋) in Arashiyama!
Sagano Scenic Railway (嵯峨野観光鉄道)
From Kyoto Station, the fastest way to be on board the sightseeing train is to board the train from Saga Torokko Station (トロッコ嵯峨駅).
The station, which is just next to JR Saga Arashiyama Station (嵯峨嵐山駅), can be reached in as fast as 11 minutes. Even if you take the normal train, you will be in Arashiyama less than 20 minutes from Kyoto Station!
How to Get to the Stations on Sagano Scenic Railway
Tip: If you have extra belongings that you don’t want to carry around, there are coin-operated lockers close to the 7-11 at JR Saga-Arashiyama Station’s 2nd floor.
On the other hand, if you are coming from the other side of the prefecture, then boarding the train from Kameoka Torokko Station (トロッコ亀岡駅) may be a better choice.
To get to Kameoka Torokko Station, you just need to get off at JR Umahori Station (馬堀駅) on the San-in Main Line.
From there, it will just be a 10-minute walk.
The Best Carriage of Sagano Scenic Railway
All of Sagano Scenic Railway’s trains have five carriages. When the weather is good, the best carriage to be in during the scenic ride is carriage no. 5, called the Rich (ザ. リッチ). The only open-air carriage allows you to snap photos of the magnificent scenery in front of you without any unpleasant window glares you will get in other carriages.
A small extra benefit of boarding the Rich is the slight excitement you might get when the train is inside a tunnel. With the surroundings covered in darkness, it will feel like you are on an expedition (´▽｀*)
But, while you enjoy the refreshing breeze and natural light in carriage no. 5, it may not be a pleasant trip on a rainy day. It can be extra chilly in winter on this carriage, so consider your circumstances before purchasing or reserving your tickets.
Hozukyō Torokko Station (トロッコ保津峡駅)
As the train approaches Hozukyō Torokko Station, remember to check out the cute Shigaraki ware (信楽焼) raccoon dog statues on the platform.
The station is situated on a bridge because it is sandwiched between tunnels (´▽｀*).
From Hozukyō Torokko Station to Kameoka Torokko Station, you might have many opportunities to spot the sightseeing boats going down the Hozu River. If the people on the boats notice you too, how about saying hi to them with a big wave (^_-)-☆?
Cherry Blossom and Autumn Foliage along Sagano Scenic Railway
- Cherry blossoms along Sagano Scenic Railway usually peak from early to mid-April.
- The autumn foliage season along Sagano Scenic Railway is usually from mid-November to early December.
- As the day gets darker, the maple trees close to the rail track will be lit up.
Are Reservations Required for Sagano Scenic Railway?
While reserving your seats to board the train isn’t essential, it is a very popular train line, especially during the cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons. The seats can be booked out quickly, so it is definitely recommended that you reserve your tickets if you visit during the peak seasons.
Reservations are open between 10 am one month before the boarding date to 30 minutes before the departure time. To book your seats, please refer to HERE.
If all the advanced tickets are booked out, you can try your luck on the day for the same-day ticket. The same-day ticket is on sale from around:
- 8:35 am at Torokko Saga Station
- 8:50 am at Torokko Arashiyama Station
- 9:10 am at Kameoka Station
Tip: You can also book a tour that includes Sagano Scenic Railway. Book the tour with Viator or Klook!
Which Side of the Train Should I Sit on?
This question is probably not so important if you plan to make a round trip on Sagano Scenic Railway.
However, if you are taking a one-way trip, here are the sort of views that you can expect on each side of the train.
- From Arashiyama to Kameoka:
- The left-hand side during the first half of the journey has a better view, with Hozugawa Valley on your left.
- The right-hand side during the second half of the trip has a better view, with Hozugawa Valley on your right.
- From Kameoka to Arashiyama: It is the other way around.
Explore the Sagano/Arashiyama Area With a Guide
If you prefer to be guided when you visit the Sagano/Arashiyama Area, consider booking one of the below tours!
- Kyoto Sagano Bamboo Grove & Arashiyama Walking Tour
- Kyoto Rickshaw Tour
- Private Walking Tour in Bamboo Forest & Hidden Spots in Arashiyama
- Kyoto Sagano Romantic Train, Arashiyama, and Kiyomizudera Half-Day Tour in Kyoto
- Arashiyama Morning Walking Tour with Sagano Romantic Train in Kyoto
Hozugawa River Boat Ride (保津川下り)
Important: Due to an accident that happened on the 28th of March, 2023, the Hozugawa River Boat Ride is suspended until at least the end of June.
Since we mentioned the sightseeing boats on the Hozu River, some of you might already be tempted to hop onto one. So here is more information!
The 16 km Hozugawa River Boat Ride, also known as Hozugawa River Cruises, has a long history of over 400 years. Hozu River was once an important waterway to transport timer and supplies to Kyoto and Osaka from the Tamba region (丹波地方) in northern Kyoto.
Nowadays, the boats are there to carry anyone who would love to enjoy 90 – 120 minutes of beautiful scenery of dynamic landscapes. The current might seem calm in the photo, but there are parts of the river where the boat ride may seem more like rafting!
The boatmen here aren’t just good at steering the boat. Knowledge about the Hozu River and how the weather can change the water flow are essential to being a great boatman. Repairing and preserving nature in the area is also part of their duties.
Apparently, it takes around ten years to be full-fledged! To add on top of that, they now need to study foreign languages like English to be able to serve people like you and me (´▽｀*).
Tip: When on the boat, focusing on what is in front of you might be natural. But occasionally, check out what is behind you. Although there might be some awkward moments between you and those sitting directly behind you, the valley seen from a different angle won’t make you regret it (^_-)-☆.
From mid-December to early March, the boats will be heated up to keep you nice and warm in the colder months (^_-)-☆.
For information about the tickets and the Hozugawa River Boat Ride timetable, please refer to their official website HERE.
Where to Board the Hozugawa River Boat Ride from?
The boat’s boarding area is closer to JR Kameoka Station (亀岡駅), just a 10-minute walk away.
From Kameoka Torokko Station (トロッコ亀岡駅), however, it would be easier to take a bus as it is around a 30-minute walk away.
From the train station, take Keihan Kyoto Kotsū (京阪京都交通)’s route 39 and get off at Hodzukawakudari Jōsen-ba (保津川下り乗船場). Please refer to pages 65 (weekdays) and 66 (weekends and public holidays) of the pdf HERE for the service’s timetable.
Discover Kameoka City – Just a Train Ride Away from Aarashiyama
Arashiyama in Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in the prefecture. You might have even heard of Sagano Scenic Railway (嵯峨野観光鉄道). But it would be a shame to head straight back once you reach the last stop – Torroko Kameoka!
Kameoka City’s scenery is as amazing as what you can get in Arashiyama, if not better. And the best thing is, it is only half as crowded!
For more information about the city, please refer to our Kameoka City article (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
1 thought on “The Best Guide of Sagano Scenic Railway & Hozugawa Boat Ride”
I love the Sagano ride. I remember seeing a resort/hotel of some sort nestled in the mountain while on the ride. Can someone please tell me the name of this resort?